2008 California Propositions

I finally had a chance to read through all the voter information for the 2008 elections today, and here, for whatever it's worth, is my take on all the ballot measures this year. None of the California senators are standing for election this year and I live in a completely safe Congressional seat, so apart from the Presidential election, the propositions are the only real questions of substance on the ballot.

For those who aren't familiar with the California proposition system and the screwed up way in which fiscal government works in this state, some things to be aware of:

Because of the first point, I default to voting against all ballot propositions unless they're very compelling. They're often written by people who aren't competent to write laws. Because of the second point, I default to voting in favor of all tax increases and against all bond measures to try to generally stop a stupid and broken way of funding state services. I'll make an exception for bond measures designed for things that are truly the sort of infrastructure one should fund with a bond measure. But anything that uses bonds to fund ongoing services is poison; raise taxes instead.

I won't reiterate the proposition text here. Go to the California Voter Information Guide to see the full text and arguments.

Here are the state-wide propositions:

Proposition 1: YES

This is one of the rare bond measures that I'll vote for. I'm still a little torn, since I'd rather see the focus be on mass transit that replaces daily commutes instead of long-distance travel, but I think we need to build high-speed rail very badly and putting more money into rail is worthwhile for a host of reasons.

Proposition 2: YES

I'm unimpressed by fear-mongering that humane cages for chickens will mean we'll get diseases from Mexican eggs and all die of bird flu. This is the kind of thing that's hard to pass any way other than through proposition since the agricultural industry doesn't want to be bothered to rebuild their cages. Tough.

Proposition 3: NO

This is almost a bond measure that I'd vote for, but the people in favor give no real reasons why this funding is needed in this form. Instead, the argument in favor is pure emotional bullshit about how we have to help the children. If you can't be bothered to provide a coherent fiscal argument, I can't be bothered to vote for your proposition.

Proposition 4: NO

We're going to have to keep re-voting on this damned thing until I die, since the anti-abortion fanatics have enough signatures to put it on the ballot every single damn election. The goal of parental notification laws has nothing to do with protecting children and everything to do with outlawing abortion by putting as many restrictions and red tape in front of an abortion as possible. You can't solve family communication problems with laws, or by forcing children to notify possibly abusive parents (and the exception essentially requires that the child charge their parents with child abuse in order to avoid notification).

Proposition 5: YES

Reduces drug sentences, more funding for drug treatment programs, and diverts more drug convictions into treatment programs instead of prisons. Anything that reduces prisons in this state is good as far as I'm concerned. Our criminal justice system is completely out of control, and part of that is the idiotic sentencing for non-violent drug offenses.

Proposition 6: NO

Our state budget is a complete disaster in large part because there are so many stupid restrictions on the budget from propositions like this that it's practically impossible to balance the budget and you want to add more mandatory spending amounts for prisons? Are you out of your minds? Fiscally, this is the worst proposition on the ballot.

Proposition 7: NO

Remember what I said above about well-meaning nonsense put on the ballot by people who shouldn't write laws? This is one of those. I'm all in favor of renewable energy too, but not a renewable energy bill that's opposed by the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Environmental Defense Fund. The idea is great; the implementation is complete crap.

Proposition 8: NO

The Bigotry Amendment. I hope no one reading this would actually vote to deny marriage rights to anyone, and if you would, I don't want to know you.

Proposition 9: NO

This is another one of those stupid "get tough on crime" propositions, this one based around old-fashioned revenge. It basically lets the victims of a crime get heavily involved in the punishment of the offender, get more powers to prevent bail or parole, and generally increase sentences. Given that the sentences are way too long already and the prison system is fundamentally broken, this is a horrible idea.

Proposition 10: NO

Pushing clean-air vehicles is a great idea that's exactly the sort of thing that shouldn't be done with a bond measure. Make it an increase the vehicle registration fees and I'd vote for it in a second, but this proposition has the standard "won't raise taxes" semi-lies and will just make the budget even worse. And unlike the rail bonds, it's not for building infrastructure; it's for doing things that, in a well-designed program, would be ongoing costs.

Proposition 11: YES

I'm skeptical that this redistricting board will be better, but gerrymandering is a serious problem and it seems at least distantly possible this will help. It's supported by the League of Women Voters, which is the main thing that's tipping me towards supporting it.

Proposition 12: NO

I'm sure this will pass easily, and it's not really problematic in the way that most bond measures are. The basic idea is that the state uses bonds to provide low-interest loans to veterans to buy houses, basically reducing their interest rate by backing their mortgages with the state's credit rating. If it works properly, all the money gets paid back. However, given the current mortgage crisis, I'm skeptical. I also don't really like the California state government providing special services to veterans; the US federal government was responsible for the war and should be coughing up the money and credit rating to support veterans after it. But it won't bother me a lot if it passes.

Santa Clara County measures:

Measure A: YES

Bonds to rebuild local hospitals and medical centers for earthquake readiness, supported by property tax levies. Exactly the sort of thing that bonds should be used to do.

District measures:

Measure B: YES

Sales tax increase to expand BART to San Jose. I'm almost at the point of voting against this, since it seems like we keep voting for things like this and BART keeps not getting extended. But I have a very hard time voting against any sort of mass transit improvement, particularly when it's funded by taxes instead of by bonds.

Measure C: ABSTAIN

This is ridiculous bullshit. It's a non-binding advisory vote on the VTA transportation plan, which is huge and which I certainly haven't read and which I doubt the vast majority of voters would have read. The general voting population is in no way qualified to judge this plan. This is required by some idiotic "oversight" provision that's toothless. I refuse to vote either way, since a vote would imply that I have enough information to have an informed judgement.

Measure D: YES

This would replace the requirement to have a non-binding advisory vote like Measure C with review by an advisory board. The latter is probably equally toothless, but at least isn't quite so completely stupid.

The rest are the standard variety of local offices. I will mention in passing my personal practice for voting for judges: if you think that we need less harsh sentencing and more intelligence in figuring out how to deal with crime, you can do worse than voting against all district attorneys and prosecutors who run for judge and vote in favor of defense attorneys and public defenders who do.

Posted: 2008-10-12 16:28 — Why no comments?

Last modified and spun 2015-10-15